Dr. Aziz Khaki – May 31, 1929 to May 22, 2012 – Awarded posthumusly.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation celebrated the accomplishments of Dr. Aziz Khaki with the Community Champion Special Award at Building Bridges for Canada, held March 2, 2014 in Richmond, B.C.
Dr. Khaki was born in Zanzibar in 1929 and raised in Dar-es-Salaam on the mainland. He was a proud Zanzibari whose heart blazed with love for Africa. His activism started in his early years, entrenched in his passion for justice and human dignity: two concepts that shaped his personality, activism and vision.
Always an outspoken individual, he joined and became active in the independence movement. In August 1962, he married Gulbanu Haji. After Independence, Dr. Khaki immersed himself in working for the betterment of the Muslim and general populations of the country. As the Secretary General of the Tanzania Welfare Society, he was instrumental in creating a Muslim secondary school system that made education possible for thousands of Africans regardless of skin colour, religion or gender.
In 1970, Dr. Khaki, Gul and their son, El-Farouk, fled political repression in Tanzania. And after 3 years in England, found themselves in Canada, drawn to it by its official policies of multiculturalism and bilingualism.
In no time, Dr. Khaki was immersed in community work, first with the Pacific Interfaith Citizenship Association of BC, transforming it from a tea social to a genuine engagement of the diverse faith communities of BC. In 1982 he was asked to head up the Committee for Racial Justice, an organization that was on the forefront of human rights and race relations in BC for many years.
Dr. Khaki was, for many, one of the first public faces of Islam in Vancouver and Canada. Respected by all the diverse Muslim communities in BC, his vision of Islam was broad and inclusive. His many roles include adviser to the British Columbia Medical Association, Vice President of the Council of Muslim Communities of Canada, and Vice President of the Canadian Muslim Federation. He was also one of the founders of the International Development and Relief Foundation.
Dr. Khaki was also Co-chair of the Provincial Committee on Diversity and Policing, a member of the Commanding Officer's Advisory Committee on Cultural Diversity – RCMP 'E' Division; the Advisory Committee to the Federal President of the Treasury Board on Employment of Visible Minorities in the Public Service and Crown Corporations, and member of the National Defence Consultative Committee on Social Change.
In addition, Dr. Khaki was a recipient of the Federal Minister of Multiculturalism Award on Excellence in Race Relations, and a recipient of the Governor General's Award on the 125th Anniversary of Canada. In 2000 he was declared as one of the 25 influential spiritual leaders of the past 100 years in British Columbia. In 2009, he received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Mark's College, University of British Columbia.
He has to his credit a number of publications including Acceptance of Religious Diversity in Canadian Society; Rights of the Child; and Progress toward Equality: Proceedings of the National Symposium.